When it comes to audio, Sonos has consistently proven that it’s in a league of its own. And when it comes to furniture that’s affordable and easy to assemble, Ikea is king. So it seems fitting that the two companies have come together to develop smart-home products.
Sonos and Ikea have launched their long-anticipated Symfonisk lineup, including a box-shaped bookshelf speaker and the device I’ve been testing for the past few days, the Symfonisk Table Lamp.
This $179 speaker/light source sounds fantastic, but its design is, for lack of a better word, unconventional.
I wouldn’t call the Symfonisk Table Lamp objectively ugly, but it’s not something I’d want in my home.
The lamp measures 16 x 9 x 9 inches, and weighs just over 7 pounds. The bottom section functions as the speaker, and with a mesh fabric cover, it looks like a large soda can wearing a sweater. The base contains three physical buttons to control the device’s volume and to play, pause and skip through music. On the side of the speaker is a knob that turns the light on and off. (There’s no dimmer built in).
The top section is a bulbous shell that covers the light (think the Philips Hue Wellner). You can screw a smart or non-smart bulb into this, but note that regular A19 bulbs won't fit; you’ll need an E12 bulb, which is much smaller.
Sonos unveiled the device in a sleek, modern bedroom outfitted with houseplants, and a uniform white and gray color scheme. There, it fit right in. But when I brought it back to my bland studio apartment, it stuck out like a sore thumb. When the device wasn’t lit up, nobody recognized it as a lamp. Two coworkers asked if it was an outer-space themed decoration; another remarked, “This looks like one of those fancy appliances in my kitchen that I have no idea how to use.”
MORE: Best Sonos Deals in 2019
This is all to say that this table lamp will only fit into the chic modern decor for which it’s designed. In most homes, it will just look weird.
What the Symfonisk Table Lamp lacks in aesthetic subtlety, it certainly makes up for in audio performance. This speaker delivered some of the best audio I’ve ever heard from a smart speaker; it even sounded slightly better than other Sonos speakers I’ve tested, including the Sonos One and Sonos Play:5.
In P!nk’s ballad “Beam Me Up,” P!nk’s vocals were clean and crisp, and I could easily differentiate her voice from the harmonies beneath. In Taylor Swift’s “Hey Stephen,” the acoustic bassline was quite strong, but still subtle enough not to overwhelm Taylor’s vocals.
In Tokio Hotel’s “1000 Oceans,” I could make out the individual guitars; on most speakers, they sound like a tinny mishmash. And in Boys Like Girls’ “She’s Got A Boyfriend,” the percussion absolutely punched; it sounded like a physical mallet was thudding against the inside of the speaker.
If I had to pick a weakness, it would be the treble tones. The higher guitars in “Hey Stephen” were a bit muffled beneath the vocals and bass. But they weren’t weak by any means.
Sonos also offers a feature called Trueplay. In theory, this feature uses your phone’s microphone to measure the ambience around your speaker, and fine-tunes your music accordingly. Setting this feature up entailed about three minutes of walking around the room and waving my phone in various directions. After setting up Trueplay, I noticed that the song was a bit quieter than it had been before, but I didn’t observe much of a difference apart from that. If you’re not satisfied with the audio you’re getting, it may be worth playing around with the Equalizer settings in the Sonos app instead.
One more thing: This speaker is loud. Seriously. Don’t crank it all the way up unless you’re in a massive space. At around half volume, it was already booming out of my apartment and into the hallway.
Sonos was one of the first audio companies to pursue a closed multi-room audio system, and its performance remains unparalleled. Like other Sonos speakers, you can pair the Ikea Symfonisk with other Sonos speakers in your home. Pairing takes just a few seconds; you’ll be prompted to do it during setup.
At Sonos’ press event, I listened to a few songs from a combination of the Symfonisk, the Sonos Beam soundbar and the Sonos Sub wireless subwoofer. The effect was absolutely breathtaking; I could feel the music emanating from every direction, rumbling through the floor and up into my chair.
MORE: How To Control Your Smart Speakers With Alexa
Setup and smart-home compatibility
The Symfonisk Table Lamp is easy to set up. You’ll need Sonos’ app for iOS and Android, or its free software for Mac or Windows. While it has an Ethernet port, you can connect it via Wi-Fi to your home network.
I used the iOS app, and it took me through every step. My phone took less than 10 seconds to find the Symfonisk, and pairing the two took less than a minute. After waiting another 2 minutes or so for a firmware update, I was good to go.
The Symfonisk doesn’t have Alexa or Google Assistant built in, as the Sonos One and Sonos Beam do. But you can still use the voice assistants to control the music that the Symfonisk plays, and to turn the lamp on and off.
Setting the Table Lamp up with Alexa was also very easy; Amazon’s voice assistant took around 45 seconds to find the device, and immediately knew its name and location from the Sonos app. From there, I could use Alexa to play and pause my music.
The Ikea Symfonisk table lamp delivers the premium audio that we’ve come to expect from Sonos over the years. It’s crisp and balanced at all levels, and seriously booms, without distortion, at its highest volumes. And, at $179, it’s less expensive than other Sonos products, such as the Sonos One ($199).
That said, it’s a weird-looking device. If you’re just looking for something more subtle, the $99 Symfonisk bookshelf speaker doesn’t have a light built in, but it still delivers great audio. If you like the idea of a speaker and light in one, the Symfonisk table lamp sounds great on paper — but make sure it will fit your home’s decor before you buy it.